Dustin Woodard will be speaking about “Reputation Management” at SearchFest 2010, which will take place on March 9th at the Governor Hotel in Portland, Oregon. Tickets are available now. To purchase, please click the following link.

1) Please give me your background & tell us what you do for a living.

Armed with two finance-related degrees, my first job out of college was for an asset management company where I helped manage portfolios for wealthy individuals. My desire for using both the creative and analytical parts of my brain were quickly met as I took over stock market research duties & was put in charge of creating the company’s websites. I quickly discovered the power of search traffic and raised $250 million, doubling the 20-year old company’s assets. What I didn’t realize at the time, is that both skills would come in handy for the next decade for my in-house SEO career.

This year will be a new experience for me as I am now a 100% freelance Seattle SEO consultant. I miss the opportunity to dig deep and dominate a particular industry, but I’m enjoying the variety of sites & situations I am now working on.

Outside of web marketing, I’m a father of two, a soccer coach, and a filmmaker. My 30-minute short recently made it into its first film festival and took the audience award.

2) What role can social media play in Online Reputation Management?

Social media plays a large role in online reputation management. It brings many of the word of mouth activities that were traditionally done offline into a very public online forum. It adds a high level of transparency to every company, which is great, but it also provides a medium where even anonymous users can falsely attack a company and hurt its bottom line.
From a reputation monitoring standpoint, social media allows you to tap into many streams of consciousness like never before. Beyond monitoring, if wielded correctly, social media allows you to influence and manage your online reputation and your reputation within search results—you can use social media profiles to fill up the top 10 search engine results for your name or your company name, pushing potential negative criticism to page 2 (see a related post I wrote in 2007).

3) How would you grade Google’s real time search implementation as of now?

I’m a huge fan of being able to narrow my search results by time and medium (forums, blogs, updates, etc.). I find it particularly useful for product launch instant feedback or keeping a pulse on an event-related search. For this ability, I give Google a “B”.

However, I’m not a fan of Google’s real-time results automatically appearing in regular search results. I find them to rarely be of any use–even in cases where you think you would want real-time results. With the addition of MySpace & eventually Google Buzz, you can bet real-time results will get even messier. There are situations when real-time results are desired, but they are few and far between. There’s so much hype around real-time search, I wouldn’t be surprised if Google is displaying it more often than it should for bells & whistles purposes instead of actual user satisfaction. For adding real-time search data noise into regular SERPs, I give Google a “D.”

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